John Andrist: An Open Letter to Wayne Stenehjem


North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, right, talks with Doug Burgum, left, during a campaign kick-off event at the North Dakota State University Alumni Center in Fargo, N.D. on Tuesday, November 24, 2015. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Dear Wayne:

Welcome to the still pretty exclusive Good Old Boys Rejection club.

Sometime I hope we can get together and talk about the good old days when we thought we had it pretty well figured out. You know. . . what the people want and need.

I’m lucky. I volunteered for retirement. You had to endure a shellacking.

Thank goodness you still have our very important Attorney General job. I joined the Good Old Boys Club pretty late in life. You have been working for North Dakota most of your life.

I hope the folks believe that before we became villains we really did put forth our best effort to fix as many things as we could out of a shared love for our state and it’s people.

And indeed we really have fixed a lot of things, many of them because of your strong leadership in so many places.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]…already the gubernatorial heir apparent has acknowledged that he didn’t mean all those slurs and innuendoes, and he wants to work together like North Dakotans are famous for doing.[/mks_pullquote]

And I really think you lost because the voters felt the choice was between good, better, and best, rather than bad, worse, and worst which has characterized our presidential sweepstakes.

I know you helped me a lot. In the tougher days of the early 90s when we were part of the team that forestalled a couple of attempts at closing down small counties through consolidation, and to prevent wiping out our smaller colleges under the false precept of efficiency.

I thought it was pretty big of you to remember your own rural roots, even when you long ago had settled into city life.

And I have so appreciated your strong efforts to stop the scourge of drugs and human abuse which seems so prevalent in today’s world. Thank goodness you are still going to be there to continue that work. Don’t give up on that. It’s still worth the fight.

I know you and the legislative good old boys will work with our new governor. Because you have a long history of caring about everyone, even those you helped defeat.

And already the gubernatorial heir apparent has acknowledged that he didn’t mean all those slurs and innuendoes, and he wants to work together like North Dakotans are famous for doing.

I suspect most voters, as well as us good old boys, realize that sometimes we play that game simply because it helps us pick up votes.

I also want to apologize to you and your most devout supporters and workers for not trying harder.

For my part, I was sucked up by the false notion that voters would reward you for your strong record of leadership in a contest with a man who even though he has all the credentials we like, comes with no experience of how things work west of Casselton.

It’s kind of ironic that the day after the election we learned the courts had ruled in favor of your initiative to stop Minnesota extremists from interfering with our right to sell coal power in Minnesota and points east. And even ordered them to pay a million dollars bucks of our legal fees. After all, western coal trains cross North Dakota daily to deliver coal for generation purposes in other states.

We are so lucky to have you understand that even though our 900 year supply of lignite coal and our enormous reserves of oil and natural gas are beset by a number of problems, spills, and accidents, those resources are vital to our economy and our fellow Americans.

And you believe fixing those problems by working with the industries that create them is better than punishing them out of existence for their mistakes.

And then there is your beautiful wife Beth, the farm girl who is the pride of those of us in northwest corner country. I know you recognize that you can never be a loser when she is at your side.

And finally Wayne, I’m so grateful to feel the North Dakota spirit, as you do, to welcome our newest member to the good old boys club.

I know he will recognize the honor given him, and find it to be as rewarding as we have.

Farm Bureau puzzlement

I was surprised and puzzled as to why the Farm Bureau chose to file a federal court challenge to North Dakota’s historic ban on corporate farming only days before we were to vote on an exception to the ban.

Somehow I find it hard to believe the move will be popular with small farmers, even those who belong to Farm Bureau.

But then in our corner of the world there is little Farm Bureau support, and I think those who do join are independent guys who oppose the long time liberal political activism of Farmers Union.

Anyway, it is pretty clear the overwhelming majority of us don’t want to mess around with the ban.